Steven Spielberg May Direct Vietnam-Centric Walter Cronkite Drama

     June 15, 2016

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Steven Spielberg is adding yet another fascinating potential project to his slate. While the director is currently gearing up to start production on the blockbuster sci-fi adaptation Ready Player One for Warner Bros., he’s also got his eye on a Bridge of Spies reunion of sorts on yet another historical drama. Per Deadline, Spielberg is teaming with Bridge of Spies co-writer Matt Charman and Bridge of Spies producer Marc Platt to develop a feature film about legendary newscaster Walter Cronkite for Amblin Entertainment.

The idea is that this film won’t be a cradle-to-grave biopic, but will instead focus on Cronkite’s relationship with the Vietnam War. The newsman played a significant role in turning public opinion on the controversial conflict, with his influence running all the way up to the White House and Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1968, after venturing to Southeast Asia and seeing the effects of the Vietnam War himself, Cronkite offered an editorialized broadcast, marking one of the first opinionated reports on U.S. televised news. The story, it appears, is one of the intersection between journalism and advocacy, which seems mighty prescient given the state of current affairs over the past few years.


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Image via DreamWorks

Charman—who originated the screenplay for Bridge of Spies before Joel and Ethan Coen did a pass on the script—pitched the idea for this Cronkite film to Spielberg while the duo were on the awards circuit for that Best Picture-nominated Cold War thriller. While Spies wasn’t a box office behemoth, it proved to be one of Spielberg’s more fascinating films of this latter stage of his career and feels destined to go down as one of the filmmaker’s most underrated efforts.

Movement on this Cronkite project is still a ways off. Charman has to write the script first, then Spielberg has to decide if he’ll actually direct the project. The filmmaker is notorious for amassing a wealth of projects that, for one reason or another, never come to fruition under his watch—see: Robopocalypse, The Trial of the Chicago 7, American Sniper.

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Image via DreamWorks

Spielberg will develop the project through Amblin with Platt producing, with an eye on potentially directing once the film firms up a bit. In the immediate future, Spielberg’s fantasy family film The BFG opens in theaters next month, he’s making another foray into blockbuster territory with the highly anticipated Ready Player One, and then after that he’s lined up a reunion with his Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner on The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, which recounts the story of a young Jewish boy in 1858 who, after having been secretly baptized, is removed from his family to be raised as a Christian. A struggle ensues that finds Pope Pius IX—to be played by Oscar-winning Bridge of Spies actor Mark Rylance—squaring off against Italian forces of democracy. Production on that film is expected to begin in early 2017 with an eye on having it ready for release during awards season later that year.  After that, of course, he’ll move straight into Indiana Jones 5 for release in 2019.

It’s great to see Spielberg continuing to be so prolific during this latter part of his career, and this Cronkite project sounds like a terrific fit. Here’s hoping it comes together.


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Image via Universal Pictures

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